While the US electronics industry should not take its eye off the ball for a minute, the Americas still dominate as the leading design center for electronics products worldwide.
By the end of 2010, 36.9 percent of the world's electronics products will be designed in the Americas, according to market researcher iSuppli. Asia/Pacific is the second largest center of design activity in 2010, with 28.8 percent of electronics design taking place there; followed by Japan, at 20 percent and Europe, Middle East, and Africa (EMEA) 14.3 percent.
iSuppli's data is based on the use and consumption of semiconductors in each of these regions.
The US data isn't that much different than in 2006, when the Americas accounted for 34.9 percent of design-related chip purchases. However, China moved from fourth place in 2006, with 6.5 percent of the world's design activities centered there, to almost 29 percent in 2010. China's gain came partially at Japan's expense, which accounted for 24.9 percent of the world's design activity in 2006.
iSuppli noted then as it does now that the design activity shows a significant amount of disconnect from where semiconductors are ultimately shipped. Nearly 60 percent — 58.2 percent — of semiconductors shipped in 2010 will go to the Asia/Pacific region. Only 15.50 percent of chips used in 2010 will be shipped to the Americas, 13.8 percent to EMEA, and 12.5 percent to Japan.
Clearly this data shows the Americas' decline as an electronics manufacturing center. In 2006 — as more and more manufacturing moved overseas — companies in the Americas were still able to say, “We're still the center of design.” And we still are. But I am wondering how long that distinction is going to be good enough?